One-way Ticket

When Maggie Diaz left Chicago in 1961, it was on a whim.  Her marriage to Australian graphic artist, Clem Fraser was over and as a divorce gift he gave her a one-way ticket to Australia “to meet his family.”

Wedding Day c1959

Strangely she accepted.  Diaz was impressed by the image of the ship, ‘The Canberra’ on the brochure and she had seen a spread in Life Magazine featuring indigenous Australians and was intrigued.  Known as Maggie Besson Fraser, she immediately started doing the rounds of ad agencies. Things were a little desperate… she certainly did not like sleeping on her ex mother-in-law’s couch!

One-way Ticket focuses on the first 20 years of Diaz as an artist and commercial photographer. It features the earliest (thought lost) images of children playing war in the back streets of Chicago, the illustrious Tavern Club of Chicago and the Lower North Center – a housing project documented for the City of Chicago; it was a place where young women were taught to sew and present themselves ‘appropriately’.

Pearls and Gloves, Lower North Center

Children Play War, 1950s

I had been through some terrible times in my life.  I worked in a steel mill as a teenager during the WWII and then factories, a bakery, a domestic help and a show-girl in a Magic Show.  By my early 20s I knew that I wanted to live a creative existence.  I was a little psychotic in those days and it was lucky I survived at all…  Photography was something I found I could earn an income from and this has been my life.

I was very curious about coming to Australia – it was an opportunity.  I felt like taking my chances to see if I could survive.  My life was so absurd in some ways, that I didn’t really take the decision that seriously. I was so absorbed in my own views (literally), I really wondered if I could do anything.  Photography kept me from being lazy.  It gave me a reason to go out; my imagination was wonderful and even though I made a mess out of a lot of things, photography made me feel that I could be sensitive and intelligent.


Maggie, late 50s by Clem Fraser

Diaz has never returned to the USA because in her words, “I never had the loot!”

9 days till opening!

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